As I eagerly await some more new vehicles to review (models I have not tested in the past couple of years) I will update you on some familiar fascias that have arrived in the test driveway recently. We first looked at the new Jeep Cherokee two years ago and the recent Trailhawk tester featured a couple of updates.
As a refresher, Cherokee returned to the Jeep lineup a couple of years ago but this Cherokee is a huge departure from the boxy utility wagon we had previously come to know. The new generation Cherokee replaced the Liberty model and sources its underpinnings from the global parts bin of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. And about the only thing that looks “Jeepish” on it is the vertical grille bars up front (along with the Trail Rated emblems on the fenders).
Cherokee is powered by choice of 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 four-cylinder engine or the Pentastar 3.2-liter V-6. The first Cherokee we reviewed arrived with the four but our recent Trailhawk model rolled in powered by the 271hp V-6. Each engine is backed by the new nine-speed automatic transmission and the Trailhawk arrived with the Jeep Active Drive II off-road running gear and Selec-Terrain system, making this the most aggressive Cherokee in the lineup (you know, the most Jeep-like).
Last year, Jeep added its new engine stop-start technology to the Cherokee lineup and while it is designed to lower emissions and save fuel, it is the most annoying feature on the Jeep Cherokee. The restart of the engine when the driver lifts their foot off the brake pedal from a stop feels almost as if you are in the middle of an earthquake. The experience is simply unpleasant (sorry, Jeep).
So on to the new features of the Jeep Cherokee that we do like. First and foremost are some of the driver technology features that include forward collision warning plus that includes low-speed crash mitigation support (fancy words for self-braking). The new SafetyTec Group adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, ParkSense rear park assist, and signal mirrors with courtesy lamps. New creature comfort features include premium leather bucket seats with ventilation up front and enhanced memory functions for driver seat, radio, and exterior mirrors.
Infotainment features have also been upgraded in the form of new 8.4-inch touchscreen, latest Uconnect technology, and Siri Eyes Free integration. Our tester also included the nine-speaker premium audio system, power liftgate, remote start system, and keyless enter-n-go.
On the subject of the new touchscreen, there are so many functions included in the Uconnect 8.4 system that engineers have hidden climate controls behind a couple of screen touches, making this aggravating while driving as your attention is taken away from the road more than once just to adjust some simple functions. Please bring back traditional climate controls on the center dash stack. (Yes, I know I could use voice recognition for some of this but when I have occupants in the car, especially the grandkids, I do not want to tell everyone to shut up just so I can adjust the fan or temperature.)
Pricing for the 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk begins at $30,595 with our tester arriving with a final sticker of $40,200. Fuel economy rides in at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
I am still amazed at just how drivable the new Jeep Cherokee is, especially in trail-rated Trailhawk 4×4 form. It is quiet, it is smooth, and it is comfortable. If we didn’t have the need for three rows of seating now I would recommend this vehicle for my wife’s next new ride. And that annoying stop-start system can be overridden.